Second line ART drug centres set for expansion

Second line ART drug centres set for expansion

Starting June, another four ART centres - Hubli, Gulburga, Bellary and Udupi - will dispense the second line ART drugs adding to the one centre at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Bangalore. KSAPS officials state that with the new additions, Karnataka will have the highest number of second line ART centres in the country.

"The new centres will help HIV patients to gain access to second line drugs closer to their homes instead of travelling all the way to Bangalore," said KSAPS Project Director R R Jannu. Apart from catering to HIV persons in their respective districts, the ART centres will also handle people from neighbouring districts too.

The staff from the new ART centres will be trained about drug combination and  evaluation of cases. The centres will then receive second line drugs from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), which will be given to HIV infected persons free of cost.  

While over 170 HIV infected persons from across the state are taking second line ART from Bowring hospital, more than half were from outside Bangalore. Officials believed that the new centres would get more number of people now due to lesser proximity to the centres.

According to NACO, two to five per cent of people are suspected of first line failure. “We expect double of the present second line ART takers in next six months," an official said. The reason for this was that many HIV infected persons took first line ART drugs from private clinics and doctors, where the drug combinations were often against the NACO recommendation.

Since second line ART drugs were very expensive in private sector, more people were expected to switch over to government ART centres, the official said. Around 800 to 1,000 first line ART takers were estimated in Bangalore.

Though the new ART centres would no doubt help HIV-infected people, free diagnostic tests were equally important, said Saroja Putran, president, Karnataka Network of Positive (KNP+) People.

Nearly 304 people have been evaluated for second line ART of which 218 were found eligible and only 178 registered for second line drugs, as in April, 2011. Of the 178 patients, 12 are children. The others have either died or not come for medicines.

Dists attached to new ART centres

* Hubli - Belgaum, Bagalkote, Bijapur, Dharwad, Haveri, Karwar, Gadag
* Gulburga - Bidar, Raichur, Yadgir
* Bellary - Koppal, Hospet, some parts of Raichur
* Udupi - Mangalore, parts of Karwar, Chikamagalur and some parts of Kasargod, Kerala